Let's face it, diapers aren't cheap. And with twin, I barely have time to get MY OWN laundry done, let alone keep up with cloth diapers (which I so wish I would have at least tried out once!). And then add to that all the horror stories that you hear about "potty training," times it by TWO, and welcome to one of my biggest fears of raising twins.... From about when the girls were 3-4 weeks, I had read about making noises when babies go to the bathroom but never really looked much more into it then. When we changed the girls diapers, if they "diaper sniped" us (aka peed during a change) we would try really hard to kick our instinct to flip out aside and make the noise (we settled for the typical pssssss sound). A little later on down the road, they started making a very distinct grunt and about 90% of the time we knew when they were pooping. We would put them in "froggy leg" position and make the poop noise we agreed on (more like a fart sound lol). Once the girls began to sit I started mentioning to my husband that I thought it was time to invest in a big girl potty. But, at 6 months even to ME that just sounded like I was being pushy with it. After "catching" MiMi in the middle of a poop one day (I jumped the gun with the diaper change... unfortunately we were out and I was not in the restroom when I was changing her, otherwise I'm sure my instinct would have been to pop her on the toilet. At this point I was just worried about keeping it contained and quick lol; don't worry though, I still made the noise!) This was the moment for me... I was ready to get on board with EC.
Obviously at this point I didn't know much about it, aside from making the noise and that it was NOT considered to be potty training. (As a student of psychology, this girl can spot classical conditioning from a mile away lol). We went out and bought a big girl potty from Target on Saturday (2/22) and, of course, that night I dove head first into some research! Before I get into story telling, I want to take a few minutes to point out some of the things I wish I would have known about EC from the very beginning of motherhood:
- EC IS the most positive"potty training" option (and least stressful) for both baby AND you: I say "potty training" and will always use that word EXTREMELY LOOSE because EC is not about training. It is about communicating with your child. The thing that I personally HATE about traditional potty training is that the child gets "in trouble" for not doing something that is expected of them when they have no experience with the task they are trying to master. With EC, you are taking the time to teach and learn from and with your child. No one ever stops to think about the fact that we are "diaper training" our children for however long parents keep their kids in diapers. For example: You wouldn't go from writing with one hand and all of a sudden have to switch over to the other and mastering the skill of writing "over night" (chances are after a few miserable fails you will probably give up; and keep in mind no one is coming behind you and negatively reinforcing your failed attempts) Of course this is a VERY VAGUE hypothetical, but nonetheless, it is essentially the same concept. Taking into consideration that this is a LIFE LONG SKILL, it seems to make more sense that you are going to want to introduce it in a positive light and with LOTS of patience and practice. Doesn't it make more sense to teach them awareness about their bodies and how to understand it from the get go?
- You don't need a "big girl potty" to do EC: EC is again NOT potty training. It is about helping baby learn about pottying somewhere OTHER than their diaper! You can have your baby potty anywhere you like if you choose! Over the big toilet, over the sink, over the tub, outside in the yard if you want (and weather permits). All that matters is that you teach them that it is more appropriate to NOT go in the diaper (TEACH not force!)
- EC is an incredible way for you to bond with your child(ren): Because EC is all about communication, it will bring on a whole nother level of closeness between you and your baby. You are "forced" to become more in tune with your baby's body language, rhythms, and instincts. You learn how to anticipate your child's needs, and in return, they learn to be able to depend and rely on you to help them when they need something. It seems like a much better option to be able to understand your babies needs when they rely on you most to care for and nurture them
- EC saves money on diapers! (and saves the Earth too): by making diapers a tool, not a necessity, you reduce the number that you use daily, and reduce your garbage load as well
- It's NEVER TOO EARLY to start EC: bc EC is a learning "activity," there is really no set age to start with. The longer you wait, the harder it may become bc inadvertently you have been "diaper training" baby the whole time. Babies brains are like sponges, it will soak up whatever you expose them too! (As more time passes, the less spongey the brain stays) (I know parents that have started as late as after one and as early as the wee newborn days)
- It's not about the number of times baby "goes" or "misses," it's about the learning process and most of all HAVING FUN!!!!! Bc it's not potty training, there is no need for pressure on anyone! Just sit back, relax, and get ready for a lot of.... well excitement to say the least!
(at the bottom of this post are more detailed points about EC via TribalBaby.org an amazing gentle parenting website! There is an awesome eBook that I am reading from there (free) about EC that I would strongly recommend for the curious minds out there! I haven't explored much else of the site since it was just passed along to me by a mommy friend of mine, but so far I LOVE what I have seen!)
SO, now that we have some facts and points about EC out of the way.... this is our journey and experiences with EC thus far (after the potty purchase of course!):
Monday AM I was still scrambling and frantic trying to figure out how and when to introduce the few things about EC that I knew about. When do I put her on the potty? How do I know when she has to go? How do I get her to go pee on the potty? What happens if she pees and it's not on the potty? OH.EM.GEEEEEEE WHAT THE HECK AM I EVEN DOING???? lol (if you get the feeling I was about to pull my hair out, you are on the right track lol). I pulled out the potty in the morning, but just kind of stared at it for the first half of the day. After all of the researching I did, I STILL had no idea where to start! It was after the first naptime that I put the girls on there. The point here was to get an idea of how they would react to being on the potty. I wanted them to feel it out. At this point, I still wasn't sure how I was going to pull this off with twins! Would I make them go one after the other? Did I need a second potty? Should I focus on one and then the second after the first caught on? Would they even like the idea of the potty or understand what I was trying to do? WHAT THE HECK AM I DOING AGAIN??? Nadia immediately took a calm and collected attitude about it. She was not bothered by it. She was ok on there as long as she hand something in her hands to play with. Miraya on the other hand was not too pleased with it. She sat for a few seconds and then started to straight leg and fuss. (We sat twice) I made the psssss noise while they sat and started out by trying to time every 30 min thinking that would help me "learn" their bodies. No such luck of course, but hey! Everybody's got to start somewhere! I kind of felt myself getting frustrated a little bit because I saw that this was not going to be as simple as "hey I said pssss, so now u pee!" It was going to take more than that and again, I felt inadequately prepared.
Immediately during their afternoon nap, I got on my laptop and started doing more digging. I conversed with some fellow viral mommy friends who had practiced EC to get some insight as to what they did. While it was very helpful to hear their input, at the end of it all I still felt like I had NO CLUE about what I was doing. So, I just picked a place to start. I had read and been told that about 15-20 after a bottle is about the time baby will need to go. So, I put Nadi on after about 15 min (to make sure I didn't miss it!) I had also read a LOT that diaperless was the way to go, but I really didn't think I liked the idea of having a naked butt to keep up with! (2 crawling diapered butts are enough for me most days!) But, I figured "Why not? What have we got to loose? When in Rome right?" (at this point I still did not fully understand why we needed diaperfree babies. I guess so when they pee we can catch them and put them on the toilet? That was my best guess) So I put Nadia on and and just made the noise. I had heard and read that a song is great to have handy, but I was pretty reserved and unconfident about this whole thing still, so I just shyly stuck to the psssssss. With her crawling around nakie, we had a handful of go's on the play mat, (I would make the noise when I saw it; Keep reading for a GREAT homemade solution to disinfect and clean your "misses!" and your babies) but I would put her on every so often as well and make the noise. ( I was VERY passive about this bc I still didn't know if I was doing this right.) Would you believe that after a few times sitting on her potty, SHE PEED!!!!! I couldn't believe it!!!! I was SO excited and proud! You could see in her sweet little face that she didn't really know what all the hype was about, but was super proud of herself! That was the moment that clicked for me and I knew that what I had set out to do was going to be possible, it was just going to take a little work.
That was the only hit we had for the day... but it was enough for me to feel more confident about what I was doing. That night, I continued to do a little more reading to gear up for the next day. Tues AM came and we tried a few times (still just after bottles and at random intervals). I did try to put her on first thing in the am but no go. (her diaper was really wet from the night time so it was hard to tell if she had just gone) I also tried to put her on before and after mealtime. But again, no such luck. We were out for the rest of the afternoon running errands and went out to eat for dinner to celebrate our anniversary. so we didn't really have a chance to enforce EC for the rest of the day (by the time we got home we went straight to bedtime bc the girls were SO tired!) Wed, I woke up feeling super ill (tummy ache) so we didn't do much enforcing until the afternoon. MiMi was pooping in her diaper so I tried to put her on while she did... she was NOT happy about that lol. I can't recall if we had any hits with N (I know there were lots of "catches" were I was able to make the noise when she peed on their mat... I know, it sounds gross, but in reality their pees are like less than 1/2 the size of a sip of water... keep that in mind.) MiMi did pee in the potty though!!!! YAY for her first pee!(that she cried the whole time through)
Thursday (technially day 4... but the first day of "full time" EC): We woke up when we heard the girls giggling and immediately daddy took them to the playroom to go potty! (I was slowly trudging along getting ready for my am pump, and I come out of the bedroom and see this!?!?!!??! Quick shout out to the daddy-o!!!!! LOVE that he is on board and so supportive of this! On Monday, I was kind of embarrassed when I heard him pull in the garage and I was holding a kid over the potty.... (I attribute that to the stigma placed on toilet use and age in our society) I know I could NOT be doing this and getting such positive results at such a rapid pace without his support! He is not only backing me 100% on this, but he started contributing significantly more with household chores to help reduce MY stress and allow me to focus on the girls more... I'm either pumping or cleaning up meal time messes during the day, and I save my evenings for sofa time with him and blogging..... GO DADDY!!!)
<I know it's OT, but it's important for me to place a little emphasis on this subject, bc without the collective "team effort," parent life is impossible! It's already stressful and nerve wrecking! With TWO it's just TWICE the mess!!! Mom's it sometimes takes a while for both you and daddy to get on the same page so my advice is just have patience and keep your communication lines open! We went through a LOT to get to this point, but every time we pulled out of a mess (which was a bigger mess than anyone can even imagine), we were just that much stronger and connected! Hang in there! >
So yes, back to Thursday! Daddy had the girls on the toilet which was awesome! We didn't have any go's but the fact that we are enforcing a wake and pee schedule will eventually pay off. (I am working on getting to bed earlier so I can be up BEFORE the girls instead of waking up WITH them... so we can catch them b4 they pee when they wake... I constantly have to remind myself that Rome wasn't built in a day, and the pee connection wont be either! ) After I got my morning pump done, I hung out with the girls all day. I started with just Nadi being naked (we do put a diaper on during meal time and nap time), but I ended up braving it out and having Miraya nakie too! I figured just because she doesn't have interest in the potty DOESN'T mean that we still can't work on EC with her. Remember it's NOT about the potty, it's about recognizing what your body is doing and learning. I can still cue her when she DOES pee and just go at a slower pace! It's all about reading your child and going at THEIR pace! (and now you know why going diaperless can be beneficial. Apparently not ALL parents do this while EC-ing! It's NOT a requirement!)
I decided that instead of waiting for the girls to wake up on their own, I would wake them around the time that they usually wake up. I woke them up one at a time (based on who fell asleep first) and put them on the toilet. This seemed to work miracles! (This is also the most common way, that I have seen from other parents who EC, to introduce the potty. Offering it immediately after waking from a nap. The concept here is that babies pee right after they wake up (makes sense bc I know I do that too) and it is easiest to predict and catch.) I also continued to offer before and after meals and about 15-20 min after a bottle. If no action after the 15-20 go, I would keep an eye out for pee puddles and try to offer every 5-10 minutes... (even with this thorough, yet rough, outline of trying to teach the girls when to go potty, I was surprised with lots of "misses"... misses being go's that didn't happen on the potty AND the ones that I didn't see happen. It wasn't a lot, but just want you to be aware, for the first few days they kinda just go at the most random pace!) I would keep Nadi on for as long as she would let me without getting fussy (or about 5 minutes, whichever came first). We had a pretty dry day with her! She only peed once or twice between her wake up pee and first nap time in her diaper, was dry through nap time, and had a pee right after being woken up. She was dry again for most part of the day! We only used TWO (yes TWO) diapers for her yesterday from waking up until bedtime! (saving that mulah! lol) Miraya was not as enthusiastic so I didn't push her. I just let her roam free and look for opportunities to use the cue sound!
Here is the kicker to this whole story. I was working hard later on that at night to get this post up before I went to bed. We fed the girls around 12:30-1 for their middle of the night (MOTN) feed. Around 2 Nadi woke back up. But this time it wasn't a loud cry like before. I went in to tend to her (now she is a pretty good sleeper and I knew she wasn't hungry soooo.... it was just odd and out of the blue). She was whimpering softly and putting her face all over mine. After a few minutes, hubby went down to get her some milk. I had this pang in my gut that she had to go pee, but her diaper was full so I was sure that I was just over reacting. (I mean if she had already peed in there, surely it wouldn't be an issue for her to do it again right?) I went ahead and changed her diaper, but she didn't stop. I asked her if she wanted milk (and made the sign), but she didn't stop. I asked her if she needed to go to the toilet (and made the sign for toilet). INSTANT HUSH!!!!! SOOOO I took her diaper back off and put her over the toilet in our bathroom (the girls toilet was drying from being washed earlier). I made the sound and BAM! PEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!! OMG, well I'm sure you can imagine the mommy high that put me on! Went back down to finish my entry and shortly after I laid back down she was up again (4:30 am). Same thing... (this time though her diaper was COMPLETELY DRY!!! 2.5 hours had passed!) WoW!!!! I promise you she made the sound and twisted her wrist too! (the cue and sign!) She woke back up at 9 (we slept in.. I mean we were up handling some pretty important business late at night.. :D (for the record we had one poop and about 3 pees so far on Friday! and its only 4 pm!)
Ok so.... (trying to tame my mommy high as I still floating in it and reminiscing as well lol). I was SO ready to call it quits on Thursday morning after all the fails and frustrations of trying to learn each of the girls signals and actions that would indicate that they needed to pee.... When I read about the whole concept of EC, everything mad it seem like ther was going to be some distinct clear cut "MOM I HAVE TO PEE" sign, but that was not the case. I noticed that sometimes they just look at me and kind of smile and make a squeaky giggle (the same noise they make when they see their milk and I sign it...opening and closing their hands is slowly starting to happen). Nadi is doing a great job with her signing, but her motor skills are not fully developed yet and it is THE MOST subtle wrist twist you will ever see. I have found myself a few times debating with myself whether she is even signing or if she is just playing and "being a baby." THIS is a GREAT example of the learning and communicating that goes into EC that builds and strengthens your bond with your babies. True, I have to stare a lot at their sitting space to watch for pee puddles, but I learned over the past few days to watch THEM, not for puddles. I also learned that WHEN IN DOUBT, whip the potty out. There have been a few times that I had a feeling they had to go, but went against my gut based on "timing and or reason." (Neither concept should be a factor in your judgement IMO) There are a few times when I thought they were trying to tell me they had to go, but they didn't. It's better to let them know that you are there for them and ready and willing to help and them not need it then vice versa.
The last thing that I want to touch on about EC, before I sign off for now, is that is not a all or nothing concept. You can do full time or part time and it all ranges on a spectrum. You don't have to be a SAHM to do this!!!!!!! You have plenty of time to catch first AM pee and last pee before bed and to work on this over the weekends and holidays. You don't have to go diaperless and try to cue and catch every pee. You can do what works for you and your baby's schedule and needs. Just food for thought! No one should be discouraged from achieving anything they want to because of an obstacle! We are never given more then we can handle! ;)
If and when you decided to start EC, don't feel bad if for the first day or 2 it feels like you are potty training. You are teaching (which is a gentle and mild form of training... right?) Just relax and take it for a test spin. See how baby likes it and get a feel for what will and will not work for you both. And just like with ANY goal you set out to do in life, don't quit on a bad day! Smile and take a breather and jump right back into it! These things take time and practice. And as much routine and regulation you can enforce, the better the habit will become for your baby!
I really hope that you learned something new today! I am in no way, shape, or form trying to PUSH this on anyone, nor am I an expert on it. There are SO many personal testimonies that I read that are each a little different from the last. I really am just SO passionate about this! I am a gentle parenting mom, and I find my "center" with it a little more each day. I like to try to live by this quote daily!
FEEL FREE to pass this around! I wish more people knew about this technique! (apparently the whole world knows but U.S.)
Here are the cleaning mixtures that I use: (note that I used these LONG before EC, and for more then potty messes!)
Cleaning solution: This is an all purpose cleaner that I use EVERYDAY! (I washed out a big gallon juice jug and store my mix in it and just fill a spray bottle with it to use. That way I am not constantly having to make it or worry about running out and needing it on the spot!) I use this to wipe -down the high chairs, clean the play mats daily, clean pee's with, and clean my own messes on the counters and stuff - 1 gallon water (use warm water when mixing), 1/4 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup vinegar and TADA!!!! too!!!
"Wipe Water": I use this to wipe the girls down after meal time (bc BLW can be a HOT mess.... everytime lol; I use warm water for their hands though); You can also use this and make your own cloth wipes! -2 cups water, 2 tablespoons baby oil (I used coconut; it's healthier for the skin); and 2 tablespoons of EITHER baby shampoo or baby wash; 7-8 drops of lavender oil is optional (this will add a great scent to it as well as help kill bacteria!; 1-2 tablespoons of aloe gel isn't a bad idea either but again optional
Follow our blog and like our FB page to continue to receive updates on our journey to be diaper free and potty LEARNED (as well as all our other twin-ventures)!!!! :D
What are your thoughts on EC? If you have already "potty trained," would you do it differently if you had a next time?